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Your Next Motorhome Should Have a Generator

Don has been an avid traveler and motorhome owner for most of his life and he shares his experiences along with valuable tips for RV owners.

Power Generators in Motorhomes

Having an AC generator in your motorhome is a fantastic convenience for most motorhome owners.

The vast majority of motorhomes have generators installed, and they are being installed in quite a few of the higher-end fifth-wheel RVs, as well.

Sure, modern campgrounds provide power connections at every site for the RV owner's convenience, but having a good, quiet-running, installed power source that you can turn on whenever you desire broadens your camping options dramatically.

A Standard gas-powered Onan Model-5500 power generator mounted in an RV.

A Standard gas-powered Onan Model-5500 power generator mounted in an RV.

RV Generators Are Unique Designs

RV generators are not your normal generator that you purchase at your home improvement store for around $400 - $500.

A motorhome generator runs off of the same fuel source as the RV itself. So, if your RV is diesel- or gas -powered, your generator will also run on the same fuel source, keeping refueling your RV and its generator simple.

Because the generator is mounted in the motorhome itself and is so close to the living quarters of the RV, it is designed to run smoothly and very quietly.

The great thing about built-in generators is that they will typically be able to provide the same amount of power as you would get from the exterior power input you use when in campgrounds.

Most RV sites will provide at least 30-Amp service, and most of the time even 50-Amp service. A built-in motorhome generator can do the same.

So, you will see that your RV generator is going to be at least a 5500-Watt generator. This calculates to 110-VAC at up to 50 Amps, the same as your RV power cable input. Some "big rigs" have even higher wattage generators.

Reasons for Having Generators in RVs

Rough Camping

When you decide to go “rough camping”, or boondocking, which is where there is no power available, such as in many State and Federal Parks, you will have your own supplemental power source.

Many fishermen and hunters will rough camp near their favorite sites and there will typically not be any kind of "hookups" for them to use. When you are rough camping in an RV that has a generator, though, you can not only use the camper as protection from the weather and a place to sleep, but you will be able to use all of your AC voltage accessories, run your air conditioning, and even watch a little TV before going to bed.

And of course, you can use your generator to keep your chassis and coach batteries charged, giving you the opportunity to stay longer, use you interior lights at will, run your fridge, air conditioning, or furnace, and operate numerous other items that run on AC voltage.

Stops on the Road

Today, people will travel a lot further to get to a campground than they did a couple of decades ago. Where a vacation used to be a day trip, now it is not uncommon to travel hundreds of miles to get to your vacation destination.

For the vacationer or traveler who takes these longer trips, there is one great thing about having a generator. When you do stop at a rest area and need a little break from driving and maybe even a quick meal, you can run your generator, then cook or warm up a small meal, run your air conditioning or furnace, and even watch a little TV while you rest before the next leg of your trip.

Overnight Stops

Sometimes, your trip might be so long that you actually need to break the trip into two parts and spend the night somewhere along the way.

Well, when you own a motorhome with a generator, you can plan your trip so that you stop at one of the many overnight rest areas, or maybe just in a department store parking lot such as Walmart for a nights rest.

Once you get to one of these sites, you can simply park in an out-of-the way area, set up for the night, fix a nice meal, watch your TV and eventually get a good night's sleep right there, in the comfort of your RV, and do it for free.

Then, the next morning, you can have your breakfast, take a last look at the local news and weather, and then hit the road, rested and refreshed.

These reasons alone make the presence of a generator in your RV a valuable accessory for the owner.

ONAN 2800-Watt RV Gas Generator

Generator Preventive Maintenance

Of course, a generator is a mechanical device and requires a certain amount of maintenance and care to be performed regularly. Preventive maintenance must be performed to keep your generator in top shape for years.

But all mechanical devices will eventually break down, even if they are maintained properly. So every RV owner that has a generator should be prepared to have certain things go bad, eventually.

An owneer can hope that if they have taken good care of their generator with preventive maintenance, when something does go bad, it will be a relatively cheap repair job and the generator will not be severely damaged.

A frugal owner will want to to be prepared to perform some of the simpler repairs themselves.

Boondocking and generators

RV Generator Tips for the RV owner

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on August 10, 2016:

Ken - I am not familiar with your model of RV, but I can tell you that it has been a standard for decades for all motorhomes to only have one fuel tank.

Now, because of so many early campers using up all of their fuel when out in the wilderness and not having enough to get back to civilization, the manufacturers would run the fuel line for the generator only down to the 1/4-tank level and not to the bottom. This made sure the camper driver could always get back to civilization. And, I have heard many stories of camper who thought they had a generator problem because of this.

Check it out.

DON

Ken on August 08, 2016:

Which tank does my generator draw from on a 1982 Ford Eldorado motorhome.

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